A landowner in southern Finland stumbled upon an ancient sword while performing maintenance work on his property. This chance find led to a remarkable archaeological investigation that unearthed not only the well-preserved weapon but also an entire cemetery dating back around 1,000 years.
The unnamed landowner discovered the sword when he noticed a piece of iron protruding from a mound of soil after a rainy day. The partially bent sword was unlike any modern-day equivalent, featuring a straight cross guard with an oval, three-sided pommel. Researchers soon got to work to determine the sword’s age, using radiocarbon dating to estimate its origins between CE 1050 and 1150.
The significance of this discovery becomes even more intriguing when considering the historical context. The sword’s design closely resembles the weaponry that Swedish Crusaders carried into battle during the 12th and 13th centuries, driven by religious motivations to gain control of what is now Finland. These campaigns have been cast as “Crusades” by 19th-century romantic nationalists, although the first of the three Crusades is debated by academics, with some considering it a myth.
Intriguingly, an X-ray analysis of the sword’s blade revealed an inscription believed to read “in the name of Jesus Christ.” This finding adds a layer of historical and religious significance to the artifact.
But the story doesn’t stop at the sword. As archaeologists continued their survey of the area, they came across a previously undiscovered cemetery closely situated to a medieval stone church. This marks the first time such a burial ground has been identified from this period in the Salo region of Finland.
The sword’s discovery location in proximity to the church is shedding light on earlier church organizations in the area, challenging previous assumptions that the Pertteli parish was established in the 15th century. This find suggests a much older church presence in the region.
The excavation also uncovered several artifacts believed to belong to a single burial, including remnants of another sword, wood fragments from a coffin, cross-shaped pendants, and a remarkable leather belt adorned with 30 bronze ornaments featuring rosette patterns.
While the researchers have identified eight graves thus far, they suspect that the cemetery could encompass anywhere from a dozen to as many as 200 burials in total. Radiocarbon dating of the human bones discovered at the site is currently underway and expected to yield results by January.